2020-08-23

I started writing my notes yesterday and I just didn't "have it". Despite consecutive days of great sleep, solid exercise, and good weather, something was just off.

On Friday, my parents and I sent my little brother off to college. I did not expect it to be a massive challenge, but the psychological effect on my parents has been brutal. Yes, there's an element of empty nesting, which every parent goes through, but there's also the circumstances around my brother's college selection (he's on a plan to transfer schools in his sophomore/junior year - anyone who's been in that position knows the stress).

Their emotions have stirred within me, a sense of unease. Combined with an increased level of anxiety from previous weeks and the result is cratering levels of productivity. Attempting to be productive right now feels as beneficial as running with increasingly painful shin splints.

So I won't. This week, my only note will be a short one on mental health.

Mental Health

It's 2020, and we all know [[Mental Health]] is supremely important. We crave authenticity (after being flooded by people's Best Selves™ on [[Facebook]] and Instagram for years, we want to see real people). And we need "depressurized" spaces to talk and meet new people. And while the need is astronomical, I still think we're extremely bad at it.

To me, mental health is a lot like physical health. In both, there are exercises you can do to improve (i.e. meditation and journaling on one side, squats and [[HIIT]] on the other). When you're feeling healthy, either mentally or physically, you reap benefits to everything else in your life. On the other hand, if you are "injured", even simple things can be difficult.

But unlike physical health, mental [[wellness]] is probably more complex and certainly harder to measure. When someone is physically healthy, you can look for obvious signals (healthy HR, BMI, VO2 max, etc). When someone has great mental health, how can you measure that? And how do you know if the measurement is accurate (not faked)?

I honestly have no answer for this, but I'm trying a few things to help me feel comfortable in all aspects of my life. It involves reading books on spiritual wellness, practicing mindfulness meditation and self care, improving my relationship with my parents, learning my history and heritage so I can be rooted in my identity.

I intend to start adding a books section on my personal site for this reason. When I'm having an issue with my mental health, I often find that the right book is the perfect medicine.

And, in addition to reading, I often find talking to my [[Otter]] app very useful. It's just [[Audio]] transcription software, but it feels a bit like a therapist. It's lower friction that writing and pairs nicely with journaling. But that's just me.

All of this is to say that I've surprisingly found myself at the "bust" of another [[boom and bust]] cycle, one that I did not imagine would have come so soon.

If you feel comfortable sharing, I'd love to hear from you - what strategies do you find effective when dealing with degraded mental health?